City look forward to 'recovery' break

With no recognised striker, Manchester City drew 0-0 at Aston Villa on Sunday. Raheem Sterling (right) was guilty of missing this good chance, a close-range header that hit goalie Brad Guzan's face.
With no recognised striker, Manchester City drew 0-0 at Aston Villa on Sunday. Raheem Sterling (right) was guilty of missing this good chance, a close-range header that hit goalie Brad Guzan's face.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini had a warning for Manchester City's Premier League title rivals after being frustrated by his side's 0-0 draw with bottom club Aston Villa on Sunday.

The result saw leaders City drop two points, but it was not as bad as second-placed Arsenal missing the chance to leapfrog Pellegrini's side at the summit after being held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur.

English league action is now on hold for the international break, which Pellegrini believes should aid his side.

Although City saw Wilfried Bony suffer a hamstring injury at Villa Park, they should have several key figures back to bolster their squad after the two-week interval.

"You never know if the international break comes at the right moment or not, but it certainly gives some important players the chance to recover," said Pellegrini. "We have finished this part of the season very well. I hope that we return better after the internationals with these important players available."

The Chilean is especially looking foward to the return of striker Sergio Aguero, who has a chance of being fit to face Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury playing for Argentina a month ago but began working with City's physiotherapist yesterday and could resume training a week later.

David Silva is also close to returning after an ankle injury that has kept the Spain playmaker out for a month.

Without their recognised strikers Aguero and Bony, City fired blanks at Villa, although pre-season signings Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne should have done better when given gilt-edged chances in the second half.

"Sometimes these things happen in football," said Pellegrini. "I am disappointed about the result, but I have nothing to complain (about) our team. They (Villa) had one chance and after that we dominated the game."

His opposite number Remi Garde was understandably happy after his first match as Villa manager ended a dreadful run of seven successive defeats that led to the sacking of Tim Sherwood.

"A point today is a move in the right direction," he said. "But we were lucky at times. To be lucky, you have to work hard, and so we deserved it from that point of view."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'City look forward to 'recovery' break'. Print Edition | Subscribe